he investment will allow Mediarex to lay down the framework to develop poker as a sport by aggregating the game’s current audience of more than 100 million around the world.
Mediarex has been pushing to class poker as a sport for some time and will next year launch the Global Poker League (GPL) in the US and Europe.
Billed as poker’s first professional league, the GPL will launch on the back of the Global Poker Masters (GPM), often referred to as poker’s World Cup, which this year enjoyed a successful rollout to almost one million unique viewers.
Alex Dreyfus, chief executive of Mediarex, said: “Poker is an old game, but a young industry. It’s a game that continues to grow too. Poker’s global growth from 2012 and 2013 was 17%, as well as a 9.4% increase in 2014 live competition entries. Digital interest in the game continues to grow as well - up 12% in 2013, 25% in 2014 and 31% in the first half of 2015. It's a large audience and the best way to aggregate it is to promote poker like a sport.”
Mediarex has already established itself as a major force in poker industry, with its GPI serving as the official ranking system for major franchises including the World Series of Poker, the European Poker Tour and Asia-Pacific Poker Tour.
Its push to have poker recognised as a professional sport has now been backed by a number of investors in the Series A round. Investors that featured in the round included a China-based Private Equity fund, Donald Tang of Hong King and John Gleasure from London.
In a statement, Mediarex said the funding “provides it with the capital infusion needed to expand on the company’s current assets and build new consumer, fan and player facing experiences en route to establishing itself as a commercial governing body for the sport of poker”.
Dreyfus added: “China will likely be the epicentre of the next poker boom and this time the boom looks to be powered by e-sports, the video game, media and sports industries.